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International Journal of the Sociology of Language

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Volume 2011, Issue 208 (Jan 2011)


Non-native English-speaking teachers (NNESTs) and professional legitimacy: a sociocultural theoretical perspective on identity transformation

Davi S. Reis
  • Corresponding author
  • Duquesne University
Published Online: 2011-03-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl.2011.016


How do non-native English-speaking teachers (NNESTs) establish their legitimacy as credible, qualified instructors in the contexts where they teach vis-à-vis the native speaker (NS) myth (Phillipson, Linguistic imperialism, Oxford University Press, 1992)? Using Vygotskian Sociocultural Theory (Vygotsky and Cole, Mind in society: the development of higher psychological processes, Harvard University Press, 1978; Wertsch, Vygotsky and the social formation of mind, Harvard University Press, 1985), this paper traces the development of an ESL writing teacher's professional identity and explores how his beliefs and attitudes in regards to the NS myth are connected with his professional identity and instructional practices. Based primarily on classroom observations, interviews, and a dialogic journal between the researcher and the teacher, I argue that the process of challenging the NS myth and negotiating a professional identity as a legitimate, qualified, and confident ESL teacher, though complex, is largely understudied. In order to address this gap in the literature, this study shows how the participant, the teacher of a graduate-level writing course, went from being a “blind believer” in the native speaker myth to challenging it, to attempting to empower his own students as expert speakers and users of the language. Nonetheless, his beliefs and attitudes toward the NS myth remained ambivalent and contradictory. Based on the analysis presented, I offer some implications for second language teacher education.

Keywords:: NNESTs; non-native English-speaking teachers; ESL; EFL; non-native language teachers

About the article

Correspondence address:

Published Online: 2011-03-04

Published in Print: 2011-03-01

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl.2011.016. Export Citation

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